Print ads. Coupon mailers. Big signs on the side of the road.

Forget them all.

If you’re running a small business, none of these should be your focus.

You want to get your first group of customers through your door. Digital marketing strategies will get you there faster and more cost-effectively.

There are over 2.14 billion people making purchases online—even a slight percentage of this market would make your SMB prosperous. But to get there, you need a digital marketing strategy.

So here’s what you’ll learn in this post:

  • Why a digital marketing strategy is important
  • Eight easy digital marketing strategies for SMBs
  • How to choose the right digital marketing strategy for your business

Why a Digital Marketing Strategy Is Important for Your SMB

Whether you’re starting a new business or already running one, it’s extremely important to have a strong online presence for your brand; especially with 76% of consumers looking for a company’s website before visiting their physical location. It’s a key part of the buyer’s journey you don’t want to sleep on.

With digital marketing, you can capture the attention of online shoppers early on and drive them through your sales funnel. But you’ll need a strategy to map how you’ll achieve these specific goals. Digital marketing strategies help SMBs by:

  • Defining your audience (customer profiles and behaviors) and market share
  • Giving you a well-defined digital value proposition that differentiates you from competitors
  • Enabling you to understand your customers better
  • Helping you avoid costly redundancies (and inadequacies) in your marketing activities
  • Eliminating risks silos (a good strategy align marketing, sales, and support teams)

That said, not all digital marketing strategies are within reach of small businesses. And some strategies don’t make sense for SMBs – like five- (or even six) figure sponsorships with influencers.

So let’s look at the proven digital marketing strategies startups, and SMBs can implement.

1. Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, uses paid tactics to help businesses gain visibility on search engines.

You probably won’t consider paid ads because they’re not “free” when you’re starting. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from them.

It’s a wonderful companion to a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign focusing on content marketing. You can use both in tandem to capture more traffic from search engines. But SEO takes time—sometimes many months to reach page one.

However, you can go straight to the top of page one and generate leads (and possibly sales) faster with SEM.

But before you dive in, keep these things in mind:

  1. Your Audience: Know the platforms your target audience uses. If you’re selling women’s hand-knitted winter gloves, you may advertise on Pinterest as its audience is 71.1% female. Any other platform may not generate favorable results.
  2. Your Budget: PPC ads usually work on an auction basis. The more advertisers there are, the higher the competition (and costs). You can also advertise on other platforms where your target audience hangs out like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok, which are often cheaper.
  3. Your Marketability: Select a platform that resonates with your target market. For instance, those looking for home decor frequent Pinterest. So why not create a helpful listicle blog post with decorative ideas? And then design a gorgeous blog banner to pin to Pinterest for discoverability?
Decoist Page
Source: Decoist

Now, if you need more nudging to jump into SEM, then take a look at how it helps small businesses:

  • Reaches your target audience at the right time: when they’re looking for information
  • Offers a way to be non-intrusive and non-disruptive to consumers’ tasks
  • Delivers immediate results
  • Drives clicks and conversions in a shorter period
  • Gives you full control over when ads show and who they’re shown to
  • You only pay for impressions, so it’s an efficient way to spend your marketing budget

2. Local Search

It can be difficult trying to outperform well-known brands for residency on the first page of Google.

Local search helps you attract nearby customers to your business and find more customers online (without spending a fortune).

For instance, if people search for florists in Georgia, you want your website to be listed in the top positions.

Florists Google Search
Source: Google Search

It’s an excellent way to get more views from consumers shopping for your products or services. But how do you succeed in local search? Here are a few tips:

  • Deliver relevant quality to attract your audience. For instance, Enkel, an accounting company in Vancouver, created a blog about “5 Bookkeeping Tips For Small Business Owners To Stay Organized.” When someone in Vancouver reads their post and finds the tips useful, they may use Enkel’s services to get help.
Bookeeping Google Search
Source: Google Search
  • Submit your business to online directories like Google and Bing. Why? Because they make up roughly 93% of searches across the web. This guarantees your potential customers will find accurate information about your business.
  • Target your geographic area with Google or social media ads.
  • Integrate SEO and PPC tactics to gain a share of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Along with these tactics, consider offline strategies like direct mail campaigns or hosting and participating in community events to gain visibility in your locale.

3. Content Marketing

Roughly 47% of marketers spend more than $10k on their annual content marketing. And this number is likely to increase.

Cleveland-based organic sports energy drinks company, Nooma, began focusing on a content marketing strategy, and have since watched their business take off.

They started a blog where they regularly post quality content covering subjects like recipes, lifehacks, health information, and workout hotspots, which appeal to their audience.

Nooma Page
Source: Nooma

Creating high-quality, relevant, and engaging content that captures your audience’s interest and builds trust can help you:

  • Generate new leads for your business
  • Increase your close ratio (AKA more revenue)
  • Answer customer questions
  • Give prospects reason to choose your business

The question now is the format you’ll use to share valuable information with your audience. Some options include:

  • blog posts and articles
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Templates
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts
  • Podcasts
  • Online videos

Showcase your expertise to attract potential customers and guide their purchase decisions.

If you’re not sure where to start, hire a professional content marketer to do it for you.

Great content can also get you backlinks and features on other platforms, which could increase your domain authority.

So make sure to promote your content through PPC campaigns, email marketing, or social media to increase reach and engagement. This brings us to our next point.

4. Social Media Marketing

You created an awesome piece of content (or two or ten). But don’t let it sit there collecting virtual dust. Promote it like crazy to get more eyes on your content and buzz for your brand. This is possible using social media marketing campaigns.

Around 55% of small businesses in the U.S. invest in social media marketing – so you should too.

Here’s why:

  • Grow your list of followers
  • Build attention and interest from your target audience
  • Increase traffic and conversions (thanks to highly-qualified lead gen)
  • Establish trust (especially if you post social proof)

There’s no need to be everywhere – select the channels that resonate with your brand and audience. Maybe Instagram isn’t a good fit if your brand isn’t visual. If not, focus on other mediums like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Wherever you decide, publish high-value content that resonates with your audience.

Good Greens, a nutrition bar company, is evidence of the power of social media marketing.

The company saw an increase in sales in just four months after using a content marketing strategy consisting of blogging and social media posting.

Good Greens actively posts high-quality photos of their bars and how their customers enjoy them on their social media pages. This keeps their followers engaged and in the know about where to buy the product.

Good Greens Post
Source: Good Greens

To get the most out of your social media marketing, make sure to:

  • Regularly post relevant and unique content
  • Run targeted social campaign ads
  • Use high-quality images, hashtags, and relevant links with your posts
  • Follow and interact with influencers in your industry and your audience

5. Email Marketing

When you publish a new piece of content – blog post, article, or eBook — you need to let your audience know about it.

Email marketing is a quick, easy, and proven way to drive targeted traffic to your blog methodically.

Start by building an email list (if you haven’t already) with subscribers who want to hear from you.

Once you have a solid mailing list, segment them based on different characteristics like:

  • Interests
  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Industry
  • Occupation

Segmentation makes it easier to personalize your messaging and offers and increase conversions.

When you email the right message at the right time, you can influence purchase decisions with little impact on your marketing budget.

6. Mobile Marketing

Mobile accounts for 54.8% of web traffic worldwide. With over 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s easy to see why.

On top of that, 61% of organic search engine visits are from mobile devices, which shows the importance of mobile marketing.

It enhances the customer’s experience as they browse your website from their mobile devices.

Remember Burger King’s Burn that Ad encouraging people to burn down competitors’ ads? It’s a prime example of the power of a mobile marketing campaign.

Burger King’s Burn that Ad
Source: WPP

You may not have the marketing budget to pull off a campaign like Burger King’s. But, you can still use simple methods like SMS to send information about your latest offers and spread positive information about your brand.

Here are four mobile marketing tips:

  • Create a landing page optimized for smartphones
  • Include call-to-action buttons
  • Add text messages to encourage action
  • Test different types of messages to find what works best

7. PPC Marketing

PPC marketing helps you reach your target audience on several digital platforms through paid ads.

You can set up PPC campaigns on social media platforms, search engines like Google or Bing and display your ads to people looking for terms related to your product or service.

Google Ads
Source: Google Search

Like email marketing, you can also segment users in your PPC campaigns based on their age, gender, location, particular interests, and even browsing behaviors.

PPC ads allow you to bid on keywords you want your ads to rank for in search engines and only pay when a user clicks on your ad.

To make your ads more attractive, try these tips:

  • Analyze your competition to see which keywords to target.
  • Focus on long-tail keywords to increase conversions.
  • A/B test your ads to see which photos, copy, and offers work.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to get more sales with less work. The process is simple:

Someone (typically a blogger, vlogger, or influencer) sells your product or service on your behalf, and you offer them a percentage of the profit they bring out of the sales.

Affiliate marketing is an effective digital marketing strategy that’s expected to be worth $8.2 billion in the U.S. by 2022.

If you sell physical or digital products, affiliate marketing can help you:

  • Drive traffic to your business
  • Promote your products
  • Generate additional revenue

You’ll need to join an affiliate marketing network like ShareASale or Commission Junction to get a strong network of affiliate marketers to work with.

However, you can create your own network by installing a plugin on your website that enables you to create one and then look for affiliate marketers.

Deciding Which Digital Marketing Strategy Is Best for Your Business

Choosing the most effective digital marketing strategy for your business begins with clarifying your goals. None of these are standalone strategies – you need to use a holistic approach.

The key to success is adopting the consumer’s mindset and using relevant content to solve their problems.

Pick a strategy, conduct experiments, and master it before trying the next.

While a lot of money, time, and effort go into digital marketing, the impact of a good strategy on your bottom line makes it well worth it.

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